Tea rose mining controversy ends

Malolos City, Bulacan — The controversy over the extraction of the rare and expensive tea rose marble from the mountains of eastern Bulacan is finally settled with Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado banning its extraction and Malacañang supporting its protection.

Alvarado revealed yesterday that his administration has gained the support of President Aquino particularly in the provincial government’s move to secure 257 blocks of wire-sawed tea rose marble blocks from the hallowed grounds of the Biak-na Bato National Shrine in the boundary of San Miguel and Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT).

[caption id="attachment_102918" align="aligncenter" width="461"] DAMAGED TEA ROSE MOUNTAIN — This is what remains of the beautiful pink-colored stone mountain within the Biak-na-Bato National Historical Shrine in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan, after miners extracted the rare and expensive marble that is in demand for use in the most luxurious hotels in China and Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. (Freddie C. Velez)[/caption]

In a letter dated Jan. 21, 2014 from the Legal Affairs Department of the Office of the President and signed by lawyer Michael Aguinaldo, Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs of the Office of the President, Malacañang has given full authority to the provincial government on the disposition of the disputed 257 blocks of tea rose marble subject to the terms and legal conditions of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The DENR confiscated the blocks of marble upon the governor’s order to ban the extraction of the very rare and considered most expensive marble in the world.

Tea rose marble can only be found in the mountain ranges of Bulacan, particularly in the eastern part of DRT, covering more than 100 hectares of land that is also rich in other mineral resources.

The governor had prohibited the extraction of mineral resources like copper, iron-ore, cement, gold and marble of different colors.

Among the countries who have a high demand for tea rose marble are China and the United States. Tea rose marble can be seen in two of the most famous hotels in Las Vegas.

It was recalled that Alvarado banned the extraction of tea rose marble shortly after he assumed the post of governor in 2010 because aside from the degradation of the forest and mountains, illegal mining also desecrated one of the most sacred places in Philippine history, the national shrine of Biak-na-Bato.

It is the site of the establishment of the Biak-na-Bato Republic, one of the three republics born in Bulacan during Philippine revolts against Spanish colonial rule.

The mining tea rose marble also became controversial because of the continuing court battle over territories where the pinkish slab of stone was being mined.

It is also blamed as the cause of many killings, including the summary execution of Rodante Marcial allegedly by communist rebels and the gunning down of spouses Constantino and Dr. Lourdes Pascual, owners of Roosmore Mining Company, in the past.